Our planet faces unprecedented environmental challenges, threatening ecosystems, species, coastal communities, and all too often, human life itself. Heading the list of threats is climate change, with its promise of drastic environmental, economic, and cultural upheaval. But we also face persistent problems of air and water pollution, toxic wastes, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and other Great Waters, and protecting natural resources and wildlife.
Central to the environmental health of the nation and the planet is decreasing our dependence on energy derived from burning fossil fuels. Our continued reliance on these sources is literally endangering the planet's ability to sustain life as we know it. Yet many policymakers, with the financial and rhetorical support of energy companies bent on making a profit at the cost of the planet's health, continue to resist desperately needed reforms. Read about CPR’s work protecting the environment in reports, testimony, op-eds and more. Use the search box at right to narrow the list.
The U.S. tort, or personal injury law, cloaked behind increased judicial review of science, is changing before our eyes. But we cannot see it. U.S. Supreme Court decisions beginning with Daubert v. Merrell-Dow Pharmaceutical altered how courts review scientific testimony and its foundation in the law. Mistaken reviews of scientific evidence can decrease citizen access to the law, increase incentives for firms not to test their products, lower deterrence for wrongful conduct and harmful products, and decrease the possibility of justice for citizens injured by toxic substances. Even if courts review evidence well, greater judicial scrutiny increases litigation costs and attorney screening of clients, and decreases citizens’ access to the law. Carl Cranor's Toxic Torts: Science, Law, and the Possibility of Justice introduces these issues, reveals the relationships that can deny citizens just restitution for harms suffered, and shows how justice can be enhanced in toxic tort cases.
Writing for AlterNet and the Center for American Progress website, Joe Feller observes that the Bush administration's proposal to ease environmental controls on livestock grazing on public lands marks the latest example of politics and secrecy trumping professional judgment and transparency.
For the Bush administration, mercury contamination is the regulatory equivalent of the perfect storm. Four separate fields - science, law, economics, and justice - have combined to demand strict and timely controls on the intolerable hazards mercury poses for public health and the environment. While many expected the Bush administration to search for escape routes that favor its friends in the chemical and energy industries - which produce the lion's share of mercury - none were prepared for its headlong plunge into the tallest waves. Just as the doomed fishermen of the Andrea Gail sailed into the storm despite clear warnings, the administration is likewise proceeding with business as usual. This means no requirements for industrial plants to reduce pollution at the smokestack and no expectation that the oldest, dirtiest plants install modern pollution controls. Meanwhile, the clear and present danger posed by mercury is being ignored.
Materials on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site – buried deep inside hundreds of pages of internal documents – reveal the extent to which the White House was willing to override expert scientific conclusions to justify a weak proposal to control mercury emissions from power plants. Federal agencies are required to obtain approval for all major regulatory proposals from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (led by the president's regulatory czar John Graham) within the White House Office of Management and Budget. In flyspecking EPA's mercury proposal, OMB economists and White House officials systematically downplayed scientific conclusions that methyl-mercury exposure causes brain damage in children.